Callendar Park deer culls are ‘necessary’

Landowners are required by law to manage deer populations

Landowners are required by law to manage deer populations

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The practice of culling deer in Callendar Park at night has been defended after concerns were raised by animal welfare experts.

All landowners are required by law to manage deer numbers to protect plant life and ensure populations do not reach unsustainable levels.

Night shooting is essential in helping us manage damage impacts, such as the browsing and bark-stripping of trees

Forestry Commission spokeswoman

Many employ private contractors to carry out the task.

But a growth in the number of licenses issued by Scottish Natural Heritage to shoot deer at night - known as ‘lamping’ - has prompted a review.

Lamping involves shining spotlights at the animals, which makes them freeze and thus easier to pick off.

Some wildlife experts claim this method is more indiscriminate than shooting in daylight, when older or weaker animals can be 
identified.

Pregnant and young deer are protected from culling.

A total of 111 deer have been culled in Callendar Park since 2008 - 63 at night.

Robbie Kernahan, head of wildlife operations at Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “The demand for authorisations to shoot at night has grown, and we have issued more licences.

“We’re aware that there is concern about this, so we are setting up an independent review panel to consider this in a bit more depth.

“We’ve done a lot of research on different culling methods and which shows there are no welfare issues for deer shot at night.”

A spokeswoman for the Forestry Commission, which owns and manages Callendar Wood, said: “Night shooting is essential in helping us manage damage impacts, such as the browsing and bark-stripping of trees.

“All our night shooting is assessed on a site by site basis and authorised with Scottish Natural Heritage.

“We have been safely 
carrying out night shooting for many years in a humane manner.”

Deer management an important task

Deer in Scotland are “owned by nobody”. Despite the lack of ownership, the animals are managed by various organisations and individuals to meet a variety of different aims.

Deer management is part of the management of Scotland’s countryside, land and natural assets.

For deer to be managed effectively they have to be seen as part of this wider management system.

They are a natural asset, an integral part of the countryside, and their presence can influence the environment around them - the assorted plants, trees and other wildlife.

Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for the conservation, control and sustainable management of all species of wild deer in Scotland.